Today, I had the opportunity to attend a workshop entitled "Bridges Out Of Poverty" which provided a broader awareness of poverty and a deeper understanding of the values and vocabulary of those who are trapped in a culture of generational poverty.
There is so much to be learned about seeking to understand instead of judging, developing respectful relationships, and building capacity with those we seek to support in crisis. However, I found myself kicking back against the final quote of the day:
"Whilst we can't and don't want to change the culture of Generational Poverty, we can work with what we've got."
Whether it be generational poverty or any other brokenness in our society, I refuse to accept that it "can't" change and reject the suggestion that we "don't" want it to change, when the culture of generational poverty is enslaving human beings to living a life less than that which they were created for! We may seek an understanding of their culture to effectively "work with what we've got;" not to leave people where they are, but to give them a vision of an alternate reality and empower them to redefine their cultural paradigm. This is not to impose change upon people who are bound by generational poverty, but to influence change among these people to break the cycle of generational poverty.
To simply "work with what we've got" with a spirit of resignation is to deny hope and to perpetuate hopelessness. Instead, God has raised within the spirit of The Salvation Army an unquenchable hope that dares to believe that lives really can be transformed. Our founder believed in a God who loved the world too much to leave it as it was and sent Jesus to "change the culture" by establishing a kingdom of hope in a world of despair. William Booth's 'Darkest England' scheme also refused to settle "with what we've got" but inspired a vision of hope and an audacious belief that The Salvation Army really could and should change the culture of generational poverty.
We ought to believe in nothing less than the hope that Jesus gave through new life and be prepared to challenge any culture that offers less when responding to generational poverty today!